Tredyffrin – Conestoga boys’ basketball coach Mike Troy’s main focus has been on teaching his kids to be great players and better young men.
Following his team’s 52-47 overtime win over Central League foe Strath Haven Jan. 12, Troy became the center of attention and for good reason. The win marked the 300th of his coaching career which has spanned two decades – 11 at Conestoga (186 wins) and nine at Devon Prep (114 wins).
Gladly accepting congratulations for the milestone win, Troy stayed true to himself pointing out it would not have been possible without the support of his current and former players along with the administration from Conestoga and Devon Prep.
“To win 300 games it means that I have had a great opportunity to work with and help a lot of terrific young men as they earn the victories,” said Troy. “It means that doing things the right way works. I have been very lucky to coach at two terrific schools and have had great guidance from former athletic directors Ed Townsley, Dave Grace, Pat Boyle and current athletic director Kevin Pechin. I have coached under and tremendous administrative support from Former Headmaster Father Shea at Devon Prep and Principal Amy Meisinger at Conestoga, who believe in always doing things the right way. Most importantly it means I have a terrific wife, Alison, who has the patience to be a coaches wife.”
“Coach Troy works so hard,” said senior co-captain Angus Mayock. “To see him reach this milestone is great. All the players are pulling for him. He runs incredible practices and encourages all of us to play our best and gets the most out of his players.”
Ben McDowell, who played for Troy at Devon Prep before attending and playing basketball at Haverford College added, “It was awesome to hear (about Coach Troy winning his 300th game). He is the type of coach who cares about his players on and off the court. He is a very talented coach who always has his team prepared and ready to play.”
After a brief meeting with his team following the win, Troy emerged from the locker room sporting a smile on his face along with breathing a huge sigh of relief. Not only was the victory a milestone one, it was an important for the team as they continue their push towards the district playoffs.
“The win was a milestone in my coaching career but more importantly it was a huge win for the team this season,” said Troy. It really sunk in the next day. It was more a sense of happiness at how hard the guys played to earn the win. We had been down most of the game and to come back and get the win over a very good team was a tribute to the character of the guys on the team.”
Describing the game as hard fought could be a mild understatement. Conestoga began game down 10-0 in the first 4 ½ minutes and trailed 14-5 after one quarter.
Conestoga did not take its first lead until the 2:56 mark of the fourth quarter when Scott Shapiro took the feed from Charlie Martin and knocked down the three-pointer to give Conestoga its first lead of the night.
Following that shot the host team needed a miracle three as the buzzer sounded from Milton Robinson to force overtime. In overtime, the Pioneers assumed control before holding on for the win.
“This a big win for the team,” said Mayock, who missed the game due to a sprained ankle. “John (Harar) is one of the toughest big guys we will face and Charlie Schappell and Scott Lambert stepped up. This is good for team morale.”
Troy added, “This was a very big win. Strath Haven is a very good team and this was a very important game from a league and district rankings standpoint. To come back the way they did was such a compliment to guys.”
Troy’s 300th win Jan. 12 didn’t come easy.
The Pioneers fell behind a tough Strath Haven squad (9-3, 6-2) 10-0 just 4 1/2 minutes into the game, trailed 36-27 with just six minutes left, and had to rely on a last-second three-pointer by sophomore guard Milton Robinson to send the game into overtime.
Once into overtime, the Pioneers (11-1, 8-0) prevailed, winning 52-47, to give Troy his 300th career win in 20 years of coaching – 11 at Conestoga, nine at Devon Prep.
“When you start coaching, 300 wins is unthinkable,” said Troy, who turned 50 on Dec. 29. “The credit goes to all of [my] players over the years – they’ve worked so hard. Winning 300 games means that you’ve had great young men to coach, terrific assistants, good support from the school, and a terrific wife that has the patience to be a coach’s wife.”
After Conestoga fell behind 10-0 with 3:30 left in the first quarter, the Pioneers patiently chipped away at the Panthers’ lead and trailed by only 19-16 at halftime.
Troy said, “Our guys were pretty amped up at the start of the game, and we weren’t taking great shots in the first quarter. But we settled down offensively in the second quarter. We [coaches] always preach to the players, ‘Get the ball to the open man, find the open man, and take your time.’”
Conestoga senior forward Charlie Martin, who scored 12 points, said, ‘This was a game of runs, and you can’t get down on yourself when [the other team] goes on a run. We’ve been down [similar to tonight] before, and the older guys on the team, the seniors, really stepped up tonight when we fell behind.”
The Pioneers got to within 24-23 midway through the third quarter, but then Strath Haven went on a 12-4 run. The Panthers’ 6-8 senior forward/center John Harrar capped the run with an offensive rebound and layup to make the score 36-27 in favor of the visitors with just six minutes left. Harrar, a two-sport standout at Strath Haven (basketball and football), finished with a team-high 14 points – nine of them in the first half.
Then it was the Pioneers’ turn to go on a 10-0 run, capped by senior guard Scott Shapiro’s three-pointer from the top of the key to give Conestoga its first lead of the night, 37-36, with 2:58 left. Shapiro’s sharpshooting from the outside was a thorn in Strath Haven’s side Thursday night, and he finished with 21 points (including a trio of treys).
“Beating a tough team like Strath Haven is an awesome accomplishment,” said Shapiro. “We had a bunch of energy tonight, and got contributions from a lot of people coming off the bench.”
Troy said, “Going into the fourth quarter [trailing 33-25] I had a feeling we were going to win. We were getting the ball to the open man, attacking and attacking, and our [defensive] pressure disrupted [Strath Haven] a little bit late in the game. [Junior forward] Charlie Schappell and [senior forward] Scott Lambert did a terrific job holding Harrar to 14 points – only five in the second half and overtime.”
Strath Haven took a 38-37 lead with 1:37 left on free throws by junior guard Chris Rosini and Harrar. Then, a Conestoga missed shot was followed by a Strath Haven turnover underneath. Conestoga spent most of the final minute passing the ball around, looking for a good shot, but a Strath Haven foul (and a missed free throw by the Pioneers) gave the ball back to the visitors with 11 seconds left.
Rosini was fouled, and made both of his free throws to give the visitors a 40-37 lead with nine seconds left.
Trailing 40-37, the Pioneers brought the ball down for one last possession, and passed outside several times, looking for a final three-pointer. Robinson caught the ball outside the three-point circle with 2.2 seconds left, and from the right side of the court let it fly. The ball swished through the hoop, and the quarter-ending buzzer sounded, almost simultaneously.
Robinson said, “I knew it was going in when I let it go.”
The Pioneers’ gym exploded in noise, but after that adrenalin rush, Conestoga did not let down in overtime.
Troy said, “Our senior captains, Scott Shapiro and Charlie Martin and Angus Mayock, kept saying to the team in the huddle [before overtime], ‘We’re not done, we’re not done, we’re not done.’”
Just 32 seconds into overtime, Shapiro hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to give Conestoga a 43-40 lead, then, folowing a Strath Haven turnover, Martin nailed a trey from the right side to make it 46-40. Conestoga had seven 3-pointers Thursday evening, compared to one for Strath Haven.
After Strath Haven junior forward Jeff Conner (who finished with 10 points) drove inside to make it 46-44, Martin returned the favor with an inside drive and basket that gave the Pioneers a 48-44 lead. On the play, Harrar committed his fifth foul and had to leave the game.
With 1:29 left, Robinson cashed in two free throws to give the hosts a 50-45 lead. All of Robinson’s five points Thursday evening were scored in the final 4:02 of the game.
Strath Haven head coach Dave McFadden said, “Everyone on our team played as hard defensively as they could. We try to focus on our defense. Conestoga shoots well in their gym – and everywhere else. We had a three-point lead with nine seconds left, but Conestoga got the momentum in overtime.”
- Eddie Levin contributed to this article.
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